Often think I’m less than adequate as a parent. Too impatient, too loud at times and too free with my opinions. Not always as nurturing, zen-like and soft spoken as I‘m capable of being. Perhaps I’m just overly aware of my own shortcomings because I’m exposed to them on a constant basis and they’re not quite as glaring in reality. I can only hope. But I enjoy my children, love them dearly and I believe strongly that a big part of my job as a parent is to prepare them to live sanely in an insane world.
One night, after a major disagreement with my son on why he was not permitted to go roam the neighborhood with some of his friends and do “dingdong ditch” with everyone, my husband put his foot down and I backed him up. After the blow up and we were both outside on the deck literally cooling off, my son actually said “I love you. And I am glad you said no even though I was mad at first.” I couldn’t even appreciate how glorious that moment was because I was too exhausted. There was also that small part of me that thought he might be bluffing…
I felt that my own parents were “mean” too when they made a limit. I vowed when I first had kids that I would not let up. That was easy when the demands were for a lollipop before dinner or resisting bedtime. It’s gotten more challenging and some days I doubt I have the energy or resolve to stand my ground. Those days the road gets too rocky and my shoes are not strong. I retreat to the basement to fold clothes and think. Sometimes I just fume. A few minutes of legs up the wall (asana:Viparita Karani) usually helps, too.
Often when I’m only correcting, the kids label that “yelling”. “Stop yelling at me!”
My kids look at me and wonder why I’m nice to people on the phone and fellow grown-ups, co-conspirators in our evil plan to thwart children’s enjoyment of life. “Why were you so friendly with her when you were so mean to me earlier?” It is a legitimate and reasonable question. But this is not reasonable and requiring an explanation since it is coming from a mildly irrational and frequently dramatic nine year old. “You’re rude. I’m going to call you Rudy!” I shake my head in dismay and try hard to contain my urge to laugh. Then I have the realization, that in spite of feeling like a rotten parent from time to time, that the very notion that my kids think I’m strict and mean is actually a good sign. I’m not “cool” and actually have achieved adulthood regardless of the fact that I love Paramore and watch South Park. Maybe I might know what I’m doing. Today.